Red Pepper Jelly is a delightful fusion of spicy red peppers, sweet sugar, and tangy vinegar, all simmered together to create the best sweet and spicy pepper jam!
This hot pepper jelly recipe is the perfect blend of sweetness with a spicy kick. It’s great on toast, chicken wings and for making red pepper and cream cheese dip.
Here are the basic ingredients to make this Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe. See the recipe card below for the full list.
- Pepper Mixture – Red bell peppers and your favorite chili pepper (we used homegrown Fresno chilis)
- White Wine Vinegar
- White Sugar
- Liquid Pectin – Certo and Ball are the best fruit pectin brands.
TIP – To make a green pepper jelly recipe, use all green peppers (green bell peppers and green jalapeños). Make one of each color for holiday season gift baskets! Spicy jelly makes an excellent gift idea for teachers, friends or loved ones.
How to Make Pepper Jelly
Here’s a general overview detailing how to make spicy. For the full details, see the recipe card below.
Strain the Liquid – Remove the excess liquid from the pepper jelly using a cheesecloth or mesh strainer. Too much liquid will keep the jelly from setting.
Make The Syrup – Add the peppers and sugar to a large saucepan or dutch oven and bring to a full rolling boil. Add the liquid pectin and continue to boil.
Prep The Peppers – Throw the peppers into a food processor and pulse 10-12 times until a thick relish is created. Do not over-blend as the jelly won’t set.
Remove The Foam – Use a slotted spoon to remove the white foam that rises to the top. You’ll end up with clear gelatin on the bottom of the jars if you skip this step.
Jar the Jelly – Pour the hot jelly into sterile mason jars.
Storage – Let the jars come to room temperature before screwing on the lids and refrigerating.
While our favorite heat level is as spicy as it gets, not everyone wants to burn their taste buds. Here’s a guideline to use to ensure mild, medium or hot jelly. If you’re unsure of the various heat levels of peppers, reference the Scoville Scale.
To make sweet red pepper jelly, omit any spicy peppers and stick to mild peppers, such as sweet red peppers.
To make jelly with a baby bit of heat, use two jalapeño peppers. You’ll get a bit of a spicy kick, but not too much.
If you enjoy ultra spicy condiments, use 2-3 habanero peppers instead of jalapeno peppers. Ghost peppers will also work.
Red Pepper Jelly Recipe
This recipe for hot pepper jelly is considered a fruit jelly, because peppers are fruit. So, anywhere you use fruit jelly you can use red pepper jelly!
While cream cheese and pepper jelly is a classic, there are some many more ways to use this recipe for pepper jelly. Here are some winning combinations to consider:
- Pepper Jelly Dip – Layer over a block of cream cheese (or smoked cream cheese); pair with ritz crackers and bread for an easy appetizer.
- Cheese Pairing – Serve crackers and soft cheese, such as brie, gouda, and goat cheese.
- Charcuterie Board – Adds a spicy-sweet kick to cheese boards. Serve with Pickled Peaches.
- Lil Smokies or Meatballs – Sauce up for an easy holiday appetizer.
- Dipping Sauce – Makes the best dipping sauce for jalapeno poppers, spring rolls, and dumplings.
- Grilled Meat – Use as a marinade or sauce for beef, pork chops, or even chicken wings.
- Pizzas, Burgers, Hot Dogs and Sandwiches
Jalapeño Pepper Jelly Tips
Jellies and homemade jam are notoriously fickle beings. With these tips you’ll end up with the perfect batch of red pepper jelly!
Temperature – Hot jelly sets around 220°F (104°C). Use a thermometer to ensure the mixture reach this temperature.
Pepper Selection – Use fresh peppers as mature peppers have less acid which can throw off the balance of the pectin and acid.
Quantity – This spicy red pepper jelly recipe makes approximately 5 cups, which equals to about five 8-oz glass jars.
Fruit Pectin – Every brand of pectin is different. We use Certo whenever making jalapeño jelly and get consistent results every time.
Sauce Pan – Make sure to use a large pot or dutch oven. The jelly needs to reach a rolling boil and can easily overflow if a smaller pan is utilized. For pictures, I used a 3 qt. pan and it did end up boiling over.
How Long Does Jelly Take To Set?
This red pepper jelly recipe will take a full 24 hours in the refrigerator to set.
Why Didn’t My Jelly Set?
As mentioned above, jelly is like a petulant child. Who knows why it’s not doing what it’s supposed to. It could be the ratio of pectin to acid, acid to liquid, heat level, expired pectin, etc. If, after 24 hours, your pepper jam hasn’t set, don’t fret; there are ways to fix:
Re-boil – Transfer the jelly to a large sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Test for signs of gelling. Continue to boil a few minutes longer to further stimulate setting.
Use it As Is – Un-set, semi-thick jellies make fantastic sauces or glazes for meats, especially chicken or pork. Or throw it over soft cheese and bake – the heat will “melt” the jelly anyway.
Red pepper jelly can be stored in a number of different ways. Decided, in advance, which route you want to take as the jarring steps can vary.
Refrigerator Jelly – skip the canning and go straight to the refrigerator. The jelly will be good for up to 2 months. To ensure freshness, use within 3 weeks of opening.
Canning Jelly – Boil sealed jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Cool and check the seals. Store in a cool, dark place. Properly canned, they can last up to a year.
Freezing Jelly – You can absolutely freeze jelly, but it’s imperative to leave headspace at the top to allow for expansion. When ready to use, just place in the refrigerator until thaw.
No matter which option you choose, there are two very key steps to ensure success: Let the jelly cool to room temperature before screwing on the lid and refrigerating. The condensation can spoil the jelly. Also, use sterilized mason jars! This will prolong the shelf life and minimize the risk of spoilage.
- 3 large red bell peppers, roughly chopped (*Note 1)
- 2 jalapeno peppers or habañero chilies, stemed and roughly chopped. (*Note 2)
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 1 3 oz envelope of liquid pectin (*Note 3)
- Add the bell peppers and chili peppers to a food processor and pulse until finely minced, approx. 10-12 pulses.
- Place the minced peppers in a mesh sieve placed over a small bowl. Use a spoon to gently push down on the pepper mixture to remove the excess liquid.
- Add the pepper mixture, sugar and vinegar to a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Bring to a vigorous rolling boil. Add the pectin and return to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, ensuring the mixture reaches 221℉. Don't rush this step or else the jelly won't set.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the white foam from the top of the jelly.
- Transfer jelly to sterilized mason jars and let come to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to set the jelly.
- Mild – Omit any spicy peppers and stick to mild peppers, such as sweet red peppers
- Medium – For medium heat level use two jalapeño peppers.
- Hot – For hot heat, use 2-3 habanero peppers instead of jalapeno peppers. Ghost peppers will also work.